BAe RG-35 Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) Armored Vehicle
The RG-35 MRAP is marketed as a new line of mine-protected vehicles capable of undertaking various critical battlefield roles.
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The RG-35 is a relatively new armored wheeled vehicle offering by Land Systems OMC of South Africa, a subsidiary of BAe Systems, UK and debuted in 2009. Developed as a private venture in 2008, the design attempted to couple the qualities of the RG-31 "Nyala" 4x4 armored fighting vehicle (AFV) with the inherent capabilities of the Ratel 6x6 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). The result became the RG-35 which continues the excellent use of angles and armor to provide maximum in-the-field protection against land mines and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) - something of which the South African Army has much experience in. The RG-34 is further marketed to the discerning military shopper seeking a wheeled armored solution within budget. However, South Africa remains the sole active operator of the type. BAe Systems categorizes its RG-35 as a multi-purpose armored vehicle.
At its core, the RG-35 is a highly capable, robust and rugged all-terrain armored vehicle in the MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) mold intended to provide a protective platform to ferry personnel to and fro battlefronts or transport VIP or supplies as required. The role of the MRAP has been expanded through modern combat in both the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters of war where the battlefield is ripe with dangers from land mines, improvised explosives and rocket-propelled grenade attacks.
BAe Systems offers its RG-35 product in two distinct all-wheel configurations - a 4x4 form and the standard 6x6. While both designs offer excellent on-road and off-road performance, the 4x4 design in intended as a fast scout for light combat duty. The 6x6 configuration is the base model intended for direct combat in urban settings. In either case, the base armor protection scheme can be augmented as required and the weapon fittings are modular by their very design. The RG-35 can therefore field a simple manned machine gun turret or a remote controlled "Tactical Remote Turret" armed with a 25mm autocannon with coaxial machine gun. Smoke grenade dischargers are also supported which add a basic level of defense. Both designs also benefit from the use of a V-shaped hull intended to redirect under-vehicle blasts away from the heart of the vehicle, hopefully preserving its occupants inside. A standard crew includes the driver, commander and gunner. A further 13 personnel can be carried in the spacious passenger cabin. Entry/exit is accomplished through two hinged automobile-style doors at the front of the hull, various roof hatches on the hull and a powered rear loading ramp. The vehicle is features bulletproof armored glass panels which protect against small arms fire, artillery spray and kinetic blasts. The weapons station is offset to the right side of the vehicle, opposite the engine placement. Passengers have access to the front cab. Internally, the RG-35 showcases acceptable ergonomics including a steering wheel, foot pedals and center console containing the transmission handle as well as various control and system buttons.
The external design of the RG-35 is conventional with the driver's cabin located at the front of the hull. The forward hull is well-sloped with an angled glacis plate. The passenger cabin is directly aft with the engine unconventionally (and interestingly) fitted to the left side of the hull just behind the driver (this aids in generating the necessary internal volume). Road wheels are large and consist of three axles in the 6x6 variant, each wheel fitting being individually suspended and offering tremendous flexibility when covering uneven terrain. A full-sized spare is carried along the right side hull wall (externally). Power is derived from a Cummins diesel-fueled engine of 550 horsepower output mated to a ZF 6HP transmission system. Performance includes a top road speed of 70 miles per hour with an operational of 620 miles. Since the powerpack is set along the side of the vehicle, the system can be accessed easily and replaced in just 30 minutes. Overall length if 7.4 meters with a width of 2.5 meters and a height of 2.7 meters - this clears it for use in an Airbus A400M "Atlas" or similar transport. Overall weight is 18 tons. Ground clearance is excellent which aids placing the occupants even further away from a possible blast under the vehicle. The 4x4 variant is dimensionally smaller due to its simpler 4-wheeled configuration - taking on more of a "sporty" look than its full-sized sister.
While only serving the South African Army as of this writing (2012), the RG-35 remains in the running for the Canadian Tactical Armored Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) program (entered in 2011) and may compete in the British Light Protected Patrol Vehicle program. These are being slightly modified to content for the respective roles.